Case Study: D.A. Davidson

Financial Services Rebranding for Growth

“By uniting a variety of business units under a common, compelling brand, we accelerated growth for all. Each of the stakeholders saw the value and acknowledged benefiting from the outcome.”  
Michael Morrison, SVP, Marketing and Communications, D.A. Davidson

da-davidson-logoD.A. Davidson provides a variety of financial services to multiple market segments. The firm’s brand and messaging had not kept pace with expansion into urban markets and the growth and acquisition of businesses providing a widely expanded breadth of services. CMO, Michael Morrison, now a Chief Outsider, led efforts to unite the divisions under a single brand. His initiatives garnered broad-based support from executives, increased awareness in new markets, enhanced internal communications and reduced costs.


Founded in Montana in 1935, D.A. Davidson & Co. (Davidson) has deep roots in the West. With the West’s largest broker dealer, award winning institutional research and leading middle market investment banking, Davidson had built excellent name recognition which was confined to its largely rural, legacy markets.

Fragmented Brand

As Davidson added capabilities in the asset management, trust, capital markets and investment banking disciplines, and expanded into urban markets like Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, the firm’s reputation wasn’t keeping pace with the solutions offered.

Davidson’s multiple business units, each with their own leadership and staff, also appealed to different audiences in the marketplace with different messages.

Combine and Modernize

In 2012, Davidson’s CMO at the time and current Chief Outsider, Michael Morrison, used marketing research and competitive analysis to convince the CEO that the company’s marketing efforts should be combined and modernized.

“The challenge was to identify commonalities across an entire enterprise that were relevant to those diverse constituencies and demonstrate the need for change to the business unit heads and corporate leadership,” stated Morrison.

Growth Strategy

Achieving Consensus

Morrison collaborated with company leadership to develop strategies to unify the brand. He worked with business unit heads and supervised creative design and messaging with the in-house team and outside creative firm.

“Everyone had a voice in the process. As a result, we were able to bridge our differences,” said Morrison.

Marketing Initiatives

The broad-based marketing effort sought to:

  • Rebrand the firm with a new name and marks to better communicate the firm’s breadth of capabilities and ethical, western values.
  • Reallocate advertising budget to develop a direct marketing platform to assist financial advisors with business development, PR and local advertising.
  • Implement a multi-channel digital strategy with a new website for the firm, custom branded websites for individual advisors, and support for social media.
  • Develop an aggressive public relations strategy to leverage the thought leadership of the company’s high profile executives and award-winning analysts.
  • Promote regular appearances by the firm’s subject matter experts on financial and mainstream networks using the marketing department’s onsite video studio.
  • Develop procedures for ongoing video production to communicate high priority initiatives and progress at the business unit and corporate levels.

 Growth Achieved

Unity and a New Brand

Morrison’s team won broad-based support for the new brand, uniting the businesses under a single brand entity with a single high-level value proposition, a win for all. 

“We embraced our western traditions and what they stand for—we’re far from Wall Street, geographically and philosophically. We also embrace self-reliance, helping neighbors, being good citizens, hard work, and close personal business relationships,” related Morrison. “It gave us all a common voice and a consistent message, so it ramped up the effectiveness of all of our marketing communications activities.”

Multifaceted Improvement

The marketing strategies Morrison implemented during the rebranding effort:

  • Achieved consistency in design and voice across all businesses and all media.
  • Increased awareness with diverse client segments. 
  • Improved internal communications and strategic alignment, internal branding and employee engagement.
  • Reduced expenses by shifting resources away from a traditionally large media spend into more direct marketing efforts.
  • Improved website search results and user experience.

Morrison’s long-term marketing and communication strategies are an instrumental component of the firm’s ongoing growth and expansion, helping Davidson become the largest full-service investment firm based in the Pacific Northwest.

Concurrent with Morrison’s 20 year tenure in multiple leadership roles at D.A. Davidson, the firm expanded the number of offices from 36 to 90 while revenue grew from $114 million to $286 million. In addition, net revenue per employee increased from $170,000 to $245,000.

Now a fractional CMO for Chief Outsiders, Morrison applies his business marketing experience to help SMBs crystalize strategy and implement plans to achieve their vision for growth.



Contact Chief Marketing Officer Michael Morrison